The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

EC Eats

The college-kid combo: affordable comfort food

Even as a loyal, generational Wisconsinite, the transition between the end of fall and the beginning of winter is not a change of seasons for the lighthearted. 

The week between Halloween and daylight savings time is one for cozy blankets, seasonal movies and hot apple cider. 

This time of the year has a tendency to sneak up on me. This morning, after a long and eventful Halloweekend, I woke up to find a cold, hard frost prompting me to break out a winter jacket for my crisp 22-degree walk to 8 a.m. calculus lecture. 

The one craving that never fails to creep up on me, year after year, is Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup.

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While I can never seem to exactly replicate the creamy, wholesome goodness that is never-ending soup, salad and breadsticks, I can recommend my latest winter solstice obsession. 

The saga of this recipe actually began halfway through September. After a long weekend trip to Nebraska, my roommates and I spent almost the entire ride home chatting, singing Taylor Swift and preparing for the week ahead. 

One of our favorite would-be chores that we have collectively adopted into a fun activity is meal planning and grocery shopping. 

Of course, this was incorporated into our seven-hour carpool karaoke-filled road trip. 

After serving the role of navigator and DJ in the passenger seat for most of the ride, a final fuel stop left me nestled in the back row. All it took was the mere mention of Olive Garden in a car full of 20-year-old girls, and we were on the topic of soup. 

Not even a full 10 minutes later, I was surfing the internet for simple renditions of the staple chicken gnocchi when I stumbled upon Recipes by Anne’s “One Pan Lemon Chicken Gnocchi.”

In our house, I love to cook. But I especially love it when the cooking involves dirtying a mere one pan. The other stand-out feature of this recipe is many of the ingredients are easily swappable for your own special seasoning blend.

The only absolutely necessary staples are chicken, potato gnocchi, lemon juice, heavy cream, chicken broth and parmesan cheese. For many college students, this might be a splurge meal. 

Trust me when I say that it is worth it — and all these ingredients can be found at Walmart.

The ingredients are simple, and the actual cooking part is even better. First, begin by seasoning your chicken. If you’re anything like me (and all seven of my roommates), we are terrified of undercooking our chicken. 

For peace of mind, butterfly your chicken breasts to ensure they are cooked to perfection. After seasoning, add a generous amount of olive oil to a large skillet and cook your desired amount of chicken thoroughly.  

In this same pan (the best part!) add minced garlic, lemon juice, one cup of heavy whipping cream and one cup of chicken broth. I prefer to cover these and let them thicken, stirring frequently while gradually adding parmesan cheese to the mix. 

Once these ingredients seem to have thickened, or you have simply run out of patience, add your package of potato gnocchi. At this point, I also add a bit of oregano and lemon pepper, depending on how I am feeling. 

After letting the potato gnocchi steep in the flavors and soften for a few minutes, you can mix in the previously cooked chicken. 

The final step and my favorite part is to enjoy this savory college delicacy of a home cooked, one-pan meal over “Harry Potter” or “Hocus Pocus,” accompanied by a tall mug of your favorite fall drink. 

Schoenemann can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Claire Schoenemann
Claire Schoenemann, Freelance Writer
Claire Schoenemann is a third-year geology and integrated strategic communication student and this is her fifth semester on The Spectator staff, but her first as the OP/ED Editor. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys hiking and looking at rocks.

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